Automen vs automen at the Pune airport
The prepaid autorickshaw drivers claim that after 11 pm, when passengers try to book autos from the prepaid booth, unregistered autorickshaw drivers force the passengers to travel with them and threaten the registered drivers.
PUNE: Although the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Pune and the city traffic police claim to have joined hands so that passengers do not get cheated at the prepaid autorickshaw kiosk at Pune Airport, the passengers say the problem persists. Hundreds of passengers take autorickshaws at the prepaid auto-rickshaw booth from Pune airport every day.
Meanwhile, the prepaid autorickshaw drivers claim they get threatened every day after 11 pm when there are no traffic police personnel around. After 11 pm the arrival of passengers arriving or departing from the airport increases. They try to book autorickshaws from the prepaid booth, but some unregistered autorickshaw drivers force the passengers to travel with them and also threaten the registered autorickshaw drivers.
Autorickshaw driver Riyaz Shaikh (58), running his own vehicle from Pune airport for past seven years, said that they have been directed by the airport authority to stick a parking sticker on both sides of the vehicle.
“We are more than 250 autorickshaw drivers at Pune airport giving service to passengers since past six to seven years. The RTO has given permission to us. When a passenger arrives and book the autorickshaw, we mention their name, mobile number and fare. Similarly, the passenger gets a receipt which mentions our vehicle number, mobile number and name of the driver. If someone forgets their belongings inside the auto they can call us or ask at the prepaid booth about us,” said Riyaz.
“For several months unauthorised autorickshaw drivers, which means they are not registered with the prepaid booth and don’t have Pune airport authority sticker on their vehicle, are threatening us continuously every night after 11 pm. They force passengers and convince them to ride in their vehicles at cheaper fare. If we stop them they fight with us. We have given a written complaint to RTO and city traffic police, but are still waiting for a response from them,” he said.
Another auto-rickshaw driver Dilip Gaikwad said, “We are providing service 24x7 and no one is helping us. We never charge extra to passengers. The passengers should also understand that there is a prepaid booth and we can’t charge them more than the meter. If they travel by unauthorised autorickshaws, they don’t know what happens next.”
However, one of the sources at the Pune airport said, “We are providing the facility to passengers and given space for pick and drop for Ola and Uber cabs. The prepaid booth is working for past five years. The passengers need to understand that these facilities are for them.”
Autorickshaw driver Aniruddha said, “Six months ago, a passenger arrived at 12.30 pm and was booking a autorickshaw. An unauthorised driver came in and convinced the passenger that he will drop him at Mundhwa in Rs 150. Next day, the passenger arrived at our prepaid booth and complained that the driver charged him Rs 450 to Mundhwa. The actual fare for Mundhwa is Rs 200 with luggage charge.”
The Pune airport sees the traffic of over 25,000 passengers every day. All vehicles including cabs and autorickshaws are allowed to park at parking number two. The prepaid booth is operating inside the premises. If a passenger books an autorickshaw from there the driver takes him to the parking lot and then drops him to his destination.
“More than 15 to 20 autorickshaws which are not authorised ply from here and they have not registered with us. They park their autorickshaw on the road outside the premises. There are no traffic police personnel who can help us. We don’t even know they have a permit or not,” said another autorickshaw driver Jayant.
When contacted, RTO Sanjay Raut said he will hold the meeting and try to solve their issues.
“We will be meeting in next few days and will try to resolve the issue,” he said.